Handling Your Resignation – Best Practice

Resignations are never easy. You may have been part of a productive team for many years and have sound relationships built with colleagues and superiors. You may be expecting people you like and trust to wish you well in your next career move – but be prepared for a range of responses when you break the news that you are “jumping ship”. In many cases you will be subjected to enormous pressure to change your mind and stay.

And here are the reasons why:
You have been a valued employee, and you will be sorely missed. Your resignation will create a small crisis for your boss. They will need to search for a replacement, train them up, absorb your work load in the meantime. You should expect that they will make every effort to get you to stay so as to diffuse the crisis.

The best way to have everyone realize that your decision is final, and to avoid the emotional turmoil of your resignation process, is to be ready with the following:

  1. Write the resignation letter. In order for your boss and colleagues to respect your resignation, they must see that the decision has already been made. The letter helps remove any ambiguity about the resignation. It should be short and to the point. The objective is to leave on a professional note. Criticism and dissatisfaction with the company, boss, role, team, or other should be addressed after the resignation period is over.
  2. Schedule a specific appointment with your boss. Where possible, hand over the letter personally. Anything you say after the letter has been read should focus mostly on the following:
    ‘Thank you for everything that we have accomplished together. I have put a lot of thought into this decision and I hope that you will respect me in this.’
  3. Prepare for any response. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
  4. Avoid going into detail about the new company, role, or entering into a conversation about why they are leaving. Any further detail will only fuel their effort to get you to change your mind. You may hear all the “terrible things” your boss knows about the new company – to try to make you feel like you are making a tremendous mistake. The preferred thing to say is that it is really confidential at this point and you will be glad to call after you’ve started so as to stay in touch.
  5. Maintain the firm position that your decision was not made lightly and that IT’S FINAL! When various people in the company try to engage you over the next few days about why you are leaving and “what can we do to keep you? (which will go on until they are convinced that you really are leaving) keep repeating that the decision is final and that you are committed to assisting in any way that will ensure a smooth transition.
  6. Be professional to the end. Leave a good impression, don’t burn any bridges. Avoid being talked into an extended notice period. This is going to be a trying time, so don’t prolong it.
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